ENGLAND IS heading for a four-week national lockdown that could extend beyond the December 2 date set for the lifting of the new restrictions.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted the lockdown could be extended if coronavirus infection rates do not fall significantly.
Though Gove expressed confidence that the new measures would help bring down the R rate, he warned that restrictions could be in place for longer than expected.
Under the new lockdown rules, members of the public will be allowed to socialise in public spaces outside with their household or one other person.
However, meetings indoors or in private gardens will be prohibited.
Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail will also close for the four-week period with furlough payments of 80% extended as part of the new plan.
Exercise outdoors is allowed while the public are advised to work from home where possible.
Unlike the previous lockdown, schools, colleges, nurseries and other childcare settings will be allowed to remain open.
The lockdown is due to come into effect at midnight on November 5.
Despite Prime minister Boris Johnson indicating the measures would end on December 2, Gove told Sky News it would be “foolish” to predict what happens next.
Asked whether the national lockdown could be extended, he simply replied: “Yes.”
— Sophy Ridge on Sunday & The Take (@RidgeOnSunday) November 1, 2020
“We want to be in a position where we can – and I believe that this is likely to be the case – have an approach where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also reduce measures regionally.
“Because the regional approach is one that, wherever possible, we want to take because again we recognise it may be the case in the future that having reduced R below 1, having reduced national restrictions, we may see a specific upsurge in specific areas which will require specific regional measures.”
The measures come in stark contrast to events in Ireland, where infection rates are beginning to fall following the introduction of a six-week lockdown on October 19.